Israel released 150 Palestinians detained during its military operations in Gaza back into the enclave yesterday and many have alleged they were abused during their time in captivity, Palestinian border officials said.
The detainees, including two members of the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) who had been detained for 50 days, were released through the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing in southern Gaza yesterday, the border officials said.
Several were admitted to hospitals, complaining of abuse and ill-treatment inside Israeli jails, they said. The Israeli has military has denied the allegations.
Many of those freed said they had been questioned over whether they had connections to the Hamas group, which controls Gaza. “I went into jail with two legs and I returned with one leg,” Sufian Abu Salah, said by phone from the hospital, adding that he had no medical history of chronic diseases.
“I had inflammations in my leg and they (the Israelis) refused to take me to hospital, a week later the inflammations spread and became gangrene. They took me to hospital where I had the surgery,” said Abu Salah, adding that he had been beaten by his Israeli captors.
A resident of Abassan town east of Khan Younis, Abu Salah, 42, told Reuters was arrested by Israel forces at the end of February from a school where he and his family had taken refuge.
The father of four, who said he had no medical history of illnesses before his arrest, said he had no idea where he had been held, but that “it looked like an army camp not a prison.” According to the Palestinian Prisoners Association, there are at least 9,100 Palestinians from both Gaza and the West Bank detained in Israel. That figure does not include those arrested in Gaza since the beginning of the October first week as Israel has not disclosed numbers related to its offensive.
The Israeli military said in a statement to Reuters it acts according to Israeli and international law and those it arrests get access to food, water, medication and proper clothing.
“The IDF is operating to restore security to the citizens of Israel, to bring home the hostages, and to achieve the objectives of the war while operating by international law,” the military told Reuters, adding that specific complaints of inappropriate behaviour are forwarded to relevant authorities for review.
Palestinian and international human rights groups have said they were aware of claims of mistreatment in Israeli jails. They said Israel has been refusing to disclose information on Gaza detainees, including how many people it was holding and where. In December, the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) said that it had received numerous reports of mass detentions, ill-treatment and enforced disappearance of Palestinians in northern Gaza by the Israeli military.
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